Harpo Marx is my God —
no longer.
Whenever I need Him,
God is silent,
except for some mournful hoots
on a bicycle horn,
or tin harmonica;
sly glancing finger
pointing directly to heaven —
obvious, from
the beatific smile on his face.

I could prove it any number of ways
but my mother told me:
“Ward, in deontological arguments,
be precise.”
Harpo must have been God
because
He is so unpredictable.

He’s funny:
gives you a coffee when you ask for a quarter,
lets the wall fall down when He moves,
pulls a sword and a fish from His pocket as the password,
makes faces when least appropriate.

did He know Groucho was going to move like that
when He traced him in a mirror of silver nitrate,
first frames in the explosion of man’s testament
to the capture of twentieth space century time?
did He know silence
would speak louder than talkies ever would;
did He know He would remain a manic child
for anyone who sees Him,
staring back at us, still alive,
though others have been washed away
like sand swallowed by the sea.

He taught me not to be afraid,
He taught me laughter is not serious business,
He taught me silence is never understood.
We hunger for the eternal in the moment of silence.
And He laughs.

He knows noise. He knows nonsense.
He knows bravery in a lunatic way —
never aware of the consequences,
never tempted by the explanations.
He will always answer the phone
but never says anything, though he listens a lot.
Sometimes, he honks the horn.

But He is no longer God —
because God is further away than ever —
and I have not rehearsed this scene before,
and the man over there with the fake blond hairpiece
scares me silly.

He is chasing people, brandishing scissors,
making them hold his leg.
I am holding a pistol
but I know it is only a prop,
it can be taken away from me at any moment.

He knows it —
leers at me as He
chases women —
they are scared too —
God bless them.

One moment He stampedes everyone
and the next He stops
transfigured by a grand piano;
He opens the top, looks inside, dreaming
plucks on the strings, then strums.
A muse floats through the open French door,
and Marcel Marceau is singing;
entranced, He pushes the support and winces
as the lid crashes upon His hand;
alpha the harp, omega the melody.

A final grandiose gesture
and for a moment we are all aware
of something missing,
something left unsaid.
We all laugh uproariously.

Harpo grimmels,
turns suddenly
and races to the exit.

Advertisements